There's been lots of news about a declining housing market -- especially in high-growth areas of the West and South. But here in Vermont, housing seems to be holding up better -- in terms of prices and demand on the part of buyers.
What makes this a rare development for Burlington is its size -- an entire square block -- bordered by Main, Pine, King and St. Paul Streets. It involves two developers and four separate projects.
Erik Hoekstra, Development Manager at Redstone Commercial Group, said, "There's a great effort and attention on increasing our tax base and growing our city, but we take historic preservation pretty seriously in Burlington."
Much of downtown Burlington contains historic structures that date back to the 19th century and earlier. Redstone is the developer here. A central part of the project is Hinds Lofts, named after the original manufacturing company that put up the building right after the turn of the last century.
The project includes fifteen units of condominiums. There's more. Another condo development will link two historic buildings. As well, a combination of residential and commercial space will include a parking garage and twenty mixed income apartments. And the old Armory, at 101 Main St., a building that most recently housed a night club, will be remodeled for offices and possibly a restaurant.
Brian Pine, a housing specialist with the Burlington Community & Economic Development Office, said, "This is a unique opportunity in downtown to advance the goals of mixed use, mixed income, true smart-growth type development... You've got a large supply of new affordable housing, in addition to home ownership housing."
Some of the cost is covered by state and federal tax credits that developers use to make their projects financially feasible. But developers note that historic preservation projects are expensive.
Hoekstra said, "It will carry itself, it'll be sustainable. But it's not a major profit center or money-maker for us. It's more of a labor of love, you know, and part of the bigger picture for the ultimate development of this block."
By residential real estate standards the Hinds Lofts are upscale, ranging from the mid-$200,000 to the low-400s -- not including the million dollar-plus penthouse. The project is outlined on the web.
The developer says demand remains strong. He said sixty percent of the units have been sold, even before they're finished.
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